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Cherie Blair herds goats across London Bridge

The Telegraph, 24 June 2012

Cherie Blair has taken advantage of a medieval rule giving her the right to herd livestock across London Bridge.

She is a QC and an ex-Prime Minister’s wife, but Cherie Blair became a humble goat herder on Saturday.

As a freeman of the City of London, Mrs Blair was able to take advantage of a medieval charter giving freemen the right to herd livestock across London Bridge.

Helped by the celebrities Cilla Black and Nancy Dell’Olio, she led 20 goats and three kids in an occasionally chaotic procession across the bridge to raise awareness for International Widows Day.

The goat herding was the idea of Lord Loomba, also a freeman of the City of London and the founder of the Loomba Foundation, which assists widows and their children worldwide.

Mrs Blair, who is the president of the Loomba Foundation, admitted that her experience of goat herding was limited.

She said: “They didn’t have many goats in Liverpool, where I grew up.

“When they made me a freeman in about 2006, they told me I was entitled to herd livestock. I told them I didn’t have livestock. Now it appears I have.

“I think I can just about work out which end is which.”

Her limited experience of goats was confirmed as she struggled to control the goat she led across the bridge, saying: “She’s very strong. I’m going to call her She Who Must Be Obeyed, because she is certainly not obeying me.”

It later transpired that Billy, her seven-year old Nubian goat, was male.

According to their handlers, the Nubian, pygmy, Saanen and Toggenburg goats, supplied by the Animal Company, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, were specially trained to walk on leads and “be friendly”.

Many of the celebrities, however, appeared to be struggling to keep their goats under control as they marched across the bridge, under the gaze of bemused pedestrians, passing traffic, two City of London police officers, a scrum of photographers, and a lone protester.

Rose Wynes-Devlin, 53, an ex-social worker from Streatham, south London, unfurled a banner saying: “Spot the irony: Tony Blair kills husbands.”

She said this was a reference to the invasion of Iraq, and the fact that as a widow herself “I know what it is for children not to have a father.”

She was ushered out of the path of the goats by stewards, but not arrested.

As reported by the Telegraph last month the Corporation of London says the right of its freemen to convey livestock across its four bridges - Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge and Southwark Bridge - is no longer automatic since the law applied only while there were still livestock markets in the City.

Lord Loomba, a Liberal Democrat life peer, confirmed: "It's not been easy. We have had resistance from the animal protection people, the local council, the transport guys, but we got there in the end."

Miriam Clegg, the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister, had been due to assist with the herding but it is understood that she had to cancel at short notice.

The Telegraph article 'Cherie Blair herds goats across London Bridge'